Bypass Windows XP license activation

Please note that this blog has been moved.

Now it has its own domain: 🙂

If you want to read the latest version of this article (recommended) please click here and I open the page for you.

Let’s suppose that you have a licensed copy of an Windows XP but lately you have installed-activated/uninstalled it for several times. At some point the Microsoft Activation Server just get bored and says “OK, if you want me to activate your license then please pick up the phone and call me!”.

What if you get bored (or you are just lazy) to call Microsoft and to justify yourself and to ask them “Please, can you activate the copy that I bought legally? Yes, I have an invoice, in fact I have 10 invoices because it happens that I bought more copies than I’m using right now. No, I’m not a software theft, I cross my heart and hope to die!”

Well, in that situation (let me make myself clear: when you both have the legal right to use that piece of software and you don’t break the EULA) you could just try to exploit one of the Windows XP weaknesses. In fact you could try to exploit more than one, I’m sure they are.

You could find yourself in one of the following situations:

  1. the 30 days expired so you cannot access the Desktop anymore
  2. you are within those 30 days time limit but you want to get rid of this issue ASAP

Your 30 days have expired

So you got a message like the one below:

Windows Product Activation - before log in

Windows Product Activation – before log in

You could also get a message like the one below, I meet that situation several times so far, unfortunately I haven’t tested to see if the trick works also for this particular situation, I guess/hope it do:

Windows Product Activation - on hardware change

Windows Product Activation – on hardware change

Anyway, so you either have exceeded those 30 days when you have been supposed to activate you copy of Windows or you lately have changed your hardware so that Windows have started to annoy you with the activation message dialog.

No matter in which situation you are just press Yes button, like you are willing to activate your Windows copy. A new window like the one below will open:

Let's activate Windows - click WinKey+u

Let’s activate Windows – click WinKey+u

By pressing simultaneous “Windows key” and “u” (WinKey+u) you will open a window called “Microsoft narrator” where you can click on the hyperlink called “Microsoft web site” that will open your default web browser.

Note: if by pressing WinKey+u it opens another window named “Narrator” then, in order to get the “Microsoft narrator” window, you have to right-click that window title-bar and to choose “About narrator” pop-up menu.

So the “Microsoft narrator” window should look like this:

Microsoft Narrator - click the hyperlink

Microsoft Narrator – click the “Microsoft Web site” link

The idea at this point is to get opened the IE browser because the browser has a issue that we are going to exploit it. So, if your default browser is Firefox/Chrome/Opera/etc we should do some extra steps to open your IE browser because that one we are going to hack. If your browser is just IE then skip the steps below to the “IE browser opened”.

Not opening IE browser

  • enter “C:\” in your browser URL bar; your browser should show the content of C:\ directory
  • navigate to the C:\Windows\System32 directory then click “taskmgr.exe” to download it; after it have downloaded just run that application (taskmgr.exe)
  • on Task Manager choose File->Run then enter “iexplore.exe” and hit OK; that will open your IE browser

IE browser opened

In URL bar enter “C:\” then hit OK. If you are not using IE8 then that command should exploit a weakness of IE7 (or earlier) which in turn will “crash the Windows” in that way that it will load the Desktop, the task bar, everything.

Note: for some reasons Windows keeps locking itself every 30-60 seconds so you won’t be able to see the Desktop nor the task bar. Just repeat the step mentioned at the paragraph above (enter “C:\” in IE browser URL bar).

So, you will gain a time frame of 30-60 seconds of fully functional Windows when you will be able to launch whatever program you want, even if 30-60 seconds later the Windows will lock it again (your application is already up an running so you are happy).


  1. I’ve seen that if you keep that “Windows Product Activation” window opened, then the Windows doesn’t look totally, so for example I had IE opened and it remained opened for an undefined time, but when I close (chose OK button) the “Window Product Activation” window the Windows automatically logged me off so I had to begin the whole process from the beginning.
  2. If you start your Windows in “Safe mode” then the Windows Product Activation does not appear any more (regarding the safe-mode).
  3. Some interesting info here.

This trick just helps you to use your Windows copy in the emergency situations; I would not recommend anyone working like this because it could just prove to be a nightmare.

You are within those 30 days time limit

In this situation you are reminded (frequently enough) that you have only 30 (or less) days left for activation. The trick to bypass this situation is the simplest and the most effective one.

Windows activation reminder - 30 days left

Windows activation reminder – 30 days left

  • open Registry Editor (Start->Run then enter regedit and push OK button)
  • open the registry key at the location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WPAEvents
  • edit the OOBETimer key value and set its value to “ff d5 71 d6 8b 6a 8d 6f d5 33 93 fd”
  • right-click on the same key WPAEvents and select “Permissions”
    • select SYSTEM group/user and check all DENY options (we won’t allow XP to mess with us anymore, in fact we deny it firmly :o)
    • click Advanced button then uncheck “Inherit from parent the permission…”, press OK, when prompted at next step just answer with “Copy”
    • in “Permission entries” select the SYSTEM then choose “Edit…”; check all the “Deny” permissions the OK+Apply

It should not ask you anymore for software activation. In fact you could run Start->All Programs -> Activate Windows and you should get an response message like “Windows is already activated”. If not working then just try again, maybe you have missed something on the way.

If you are interested on Windows Vista/7 license activation you could read also an article I wrote about this.

[!] WARNING [!]

I would not recommend to anyone to try this procedure to gain the access to use an unlicensed copy of Windows. In fact, when dealing with licensed software (like Windows), I would strongly recommend you to contact your software provider to ask it if you are allowed to do something like that or not.  I wrote this article only for myself for research/educational purposes so that in case of emergency to be able to rescue my licensed system.


About Eugen Mihailescu

Always looking to learn more about *nix world, about the fundamental concepts of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. I am also passionate about programming, database and systems administration.
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20 Responses to Bypass Windows XP license activation

  1. Gunsmoke says:

    Thanks for Your Help Bro. your fully explained activation bypass method beats those half done gimmicks that oftentimes fails to work, this is my third yet successful attempt because i’ve must’ve done something right!!

  2. TheWayItis says:

    Worked at first. I used it for a couple weeks. Something must have updated on XP on auto-updates. I have set the registry but now I still get the Activation window and when I go into it, it says I’m already activated. When I look at the registry key, it is as you suggested and permissions as you suggested. There must be something else now.

    • I’m pretty sure that the Windows activation mechanism is not trivial at all and that it has more than a single protection gate. The only methods I’ve tested were those mentioned in post, though.

    • MorrisBack says:

      Hi, facing the same issue right now.. did you eventually find a long-term solution?

  3. Pingback: Old Windows activation | La computadora en la oficina

  4. Shirley says:

    I can’t seem to find SYSTEM. Can anyone tell me where it is? Thanks in advance.

    • I suppose you have WinXP, right?
      Also make sure you are logged on with an Windows user that has administrative rights on that system, otherwise I don’t think you can see the Permission submenu where you can select the SYSTEM user/group.
      So, can you see the Permission submenu like in the image bellow?

  5. LatinMcG says:

    i had google chrome as default . it worked to “dload” c:\program files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe then open it and it launched
    then i typed c:\ and it let me run the darn driver install for LAN so i could activate online.
    IT WORKED..i set everything back in regsitry before doing online activation.
    i had dloaded driver for it and saved to c:\ from
    Thanks.. sorta

  6. says:

    Thanks for the help this really helped me!

  7. Springz says:

    Thanks great help. I had an old pc that i desperately needed to rescue some stuff from. tried everything until this

  8. Sorin Acela says:

    The method had been described 2 years before this at It rarely works anyway.

  9. MarioFan835 says:

    I tried this before and it never works for me

  10. Don Haywood says:

    Doesn’t work. After 3 days it still says Windows is activated but locks user out.

  11. Thao Le says:

    Thanks so much!

  12. Alex says:

    Thank you for your advice guys. I have a genuine licensed XP OS but after my board burnt I had to buy a new board and the XP OS gave me 3 days to activate my OS license stating that major hardware changes have ocurred. I tried my best to activate the Original License key through the internet but it did’nt work. I will try out your way

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